2016

January 2016

 

Wednesday, 27th January - Tunstall

pound1601 pound1602

[simulation]

Mission Impossible 2 DVD.

Poundland Collectable Truck - Series 2

1 bag of 12 Freesia bulbs.

1 pack of 15 sheets of Tissue Paper.

1 pack of 4 Crunchies.

1 pack of Cadbury Mello’s. (The misplaced apostrophe is Mr. Cadbury’s, not mine.)

1 bag of Fruit Jellies.

 

Supplies:

3 packs of 6 disposable lighters.

Notes:

1. It took me two years to get to Tunstall Poundland, which is strange since Tunstall is one of the six towns that make up the City of Stoke-on-Trent, which is where I live. Last year Mr. Poundland opened a shop in Longton, which is another of the six towns, and I’m hoping to give that a go soon, especially since Longton is my home town. Maybe I should do this properly and draw a map and point out interesting features and items of historical interest, but I reckon wikipedia has that covered - just look up Stoke-on-Trent. Briefly, there are six towns running north to south in a wobbly line, from Tunstall at the top, then Burslem (or Bozlm), Hanley (home of the 2 Poundlands), Stoke (or Stoke-upon-Trent to be precise, a cause of much confusion), Fenton and Longton at the bottom. Of the six, Hanley is regarded as the City Centre and does best, but the two outliers do fairly well, and of the ones in between, Burslem, for some reason, has attracted the interest of Prince Charles, Stoke was destroyed by a road and Fenton was omitted from his stories by Arnold Bennett since he felt Five sounded better than Six, and it’s been sulking ever since. Most cities start at the centre, then expand to include other districts. I don’t know whether Stoke (the City, not the town) is unique in the way it developed - originally it was just called the Potteries and the towns were united by a common industry - but it does engender this feeling that, if you’ve lived here all your life, you should really know all of the constituent towns, but no one does. Everybody knows Hanley and the town they started out in, and maybe the one where they work, but the others are a foreign country (much like L. P. Harley’s ‘past’, although in the case of Longton there’s a closer similarity). I’m sure Mancunians don’t worry about never having visited Moss Side, for example, but as a Potter born and bred, it always strikes me as odd that of the six towns I only feel comfortable in three of them. Sorry to go on like this, bit dour for the first entry of the year, but I did go to Tunstall Poundland and I thought I should mention why that was a big deal for me and why it took two years to accomplish the task.

2. Of the items purchased none need detain us long, perhaps the Poundland truck bought for No. 1 grandson - I should have bought one for myself since it would make a nice addition to the rubbish which lurks behind my monitor, the Stikfast samurai and Green Lantern.

3. We did get to see quite a bit of Tunstall on our visit since the Poundland sign was obscured by banners advertising the fact that Stoke is this year’s European City of Sport, for some reason. Being bereft of technology, I asked the good lady wife if she could find out where Poundland was, using her mobile phone. We then embarked on a trek through the back streets of Tunstall which I would guess have not changed since jolly potters kicked their bos agen the wos in Victorian times (see L. P. Hartley note about Longton). Eventually she checked the phone again and made the picture bigger and we retraced our steps and the banners shifted in the wind and I spotted our goal (my small contribution to Stoke being this year’s European City of Sport).

4. So, there I will leave it, except for a song - ‘Silicosis’ by Bob Wilson (he of Stanley Bagshaw fame).

March 2016

 

Thursday, 24th March - Longton

pound1603 pound1604

[simulation]

Classic Tales of Horror: Volume 2 edited by Jonathan Wooding.

House of Flying Daggers DVD (Two Disc Collector’s Edition).

Burn After Reading DVD.

Scream DVD.

I Know What You Did Last Summer DVD.

Braveheart DVD (Two Disc Special Edition).

1 bag of Fruit Jellies.

 

Supplies:

Dawn Chorus Wild Bird Suet Pellets With Mealworms.
3 packs of 6 disposable lighters.

Notes:

1. So, I finally made it to the Longton Poundland. Hurrah! And it was my regular birthday visit. But, given the fact that this was a Big Birthday (65) I made a special effort to buy something whether I wanted it or not, which accounts for all the DVDs. I’d taped them all off the telly but I hadn’t got them on DVD, and they’ll probably all just moulder on the pile. House of Flying Daggers I resisted for a long time since it came out in the wake of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which had annoyed me with the excessive wirework, but it turned out to be ok. The first Scream was good, but the sequels ruined it a bit. I Know What You Did Last Summer is ok and I was disappointed with Burn After Reading, as I was a bit with the Coen brothers’ latest offering Hail, Caesar!, but I thought I should give it another go. And Braveheart is just too long.

2. I’ve also got most of the stories in Classic Tales of Horror: Volume 2 but I don’t think I’ve got a copy of ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by W. W. Jacobs, so I thought it worth a pound. Especially since I can now add a link to No. 1 son’s short film, Jenny Ringo and the Monkey’s Paw.

3. The suet pellets with mealworms, which sound really tasty, are for the birds in an attempt to attract a higher class of clientele to our garden. Although the fat pigeons and the sparrows are now used to the Poundland feeder, we do have a fancy feeder in the shape of an apple which the good lady wife purchased on one of our trips down south. The birds have never taken to this for some reason and I suspect it’s a class thing. The pigeons and sparrows pooh pooh such folderols and fripperies and want to stick their noses into good working class feeders which are not made by the craftsmen of the south in brightly coloured plastic mimicking items of fruit. I sympathise. On a recent visit to the south I ordered a breakfast bap in a cafe and was asked if I wanted spinach with it. With a breakfast bap! Who did the lady think I was, bloody Popeye! I should have replied, but didn’t because I didn’t think of the quip till half-an-hour later, so I just said no. Still, in an effort to lure more exotic birds, I thought I’d try the suet pellets with mealworms, which I reckon is probably the avian equivalent of spinach on a breakfast bap.

4. But back to Longton. As I said, I’m coming up to retirement age, although I’m not actually retiring from anything, so it just seems I’m getting a year older, but at least I can now call myself an old age pensioner and act the part without feeling I have to pretend that 65 is the new 20 or something and go water-skiing with a bag of bananas on my head to raise money for starving comedians or summat. One thing I have found out is that you have to apply for your old age pension. I thought it would just come in the post on my birthday, like the bowel cancer testing kit did when I was 60. But no, you have to ring this lady and give her your details and then hand the phone over to the good lady wife to fill in all the financial stuff which she handles, so you feel a bit like Helen and Rob in The Archers where you may be 65 but you’re not really in control of your own life at all, and then while she waits for the computer to do something she asks me if I’m going on holiday. That worried me a bit and I nearly said, who d’you think I am, bloody Popeye! But then she explained she was making idle conversation while her computer was doing something and I nearly said, why don’t you put Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on again instead, especially since it’d taken me a while to work out it was Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and not Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik because it was a particularly poor electronic version and I didn’t recognise it until the violin solo came in (I say violin but being electronic it sounded more like a mouth organ) but I just said no. Anyway then she told me how much I was getting and all ended happily.

5. But back to Longton. Being in a nostalgic frame of mind, I forewent the visit to Poundland for a bit and had a walk round the town. It’s a dump. That seems to be the problem with the great City of Stoke-on-Trent now. Back when the six towns were united by a common industry and were known as the Potteries there did seem to be a reason to bind the whole lot together, now that’s gone and we’re just six little towns which lie too close to one another, with nothing much to unite us except history and a football team. The outskirts of Longton, like the outskirts of Tunstall have a variety of big stores, but the actual high streets seem bereft, abandoned. Longton hasn’t even managed to fill the old Woolworth’s. I used to joke that Longton was like Russia in the 1950s, there was an air of grimness about it. But that was twenty years ago, now it doesn’t seem like a joke anymore. But when I think back to how Longton actually was in the 1950s, when it was my ‘home town’, it seemed a much livelier place. I remember the shops being full, Hughes and Harbour’s, the pet shop, the library and Brookfields toyshop on the way to Dresden (now separated from the rest of the town by the bloody big road built at the behest of the masons). And the two cinemas, the Focus (a bit of a bug hut, only remember going there once to see The Devil’s Hairpin) and the Empire (a much grander building, an Edwardian theatre). The Focus was pulled down, the Empire burnt down in 1992. So I went to Poundland and made my purchases, then went across the road and considered going into the Catholic Church since it was Maundy Thursday, but I reckoned I might be struck down, so I sat on a wall and had a smoke. Then I started off for home, feeling quite morose, when I spotted Bevan’s Record Shop, which still appeared to be trading, despite Mr. Bevan’s demise a couple of years ago. Bevan’s was where I bought some of my first jazz records, so, although such adventures rarely end happily, I thought I should go in and have a look round. I found some old jazz records (I suppose I should say vinyl but I won’t) and I bought a Johnny Griffin for 3 quid. And then I had a very nice conversation with the owner of the shop and we discussed jazz and I said I found it hard to work up any enthusiasm for the jazz being played today since nothing new seems to have come along since the 1970s. And so we stood there, talking jazz, and it was all very ‘We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow’. Then it was time to go and I should have apologised to the bloke standing behind me waiting to be served, but he made me jump, bloody ninja.

May 2016

 

Tuesday, 3rd May - Stafford

pound1605 pound1606

[simulation]

X-Men DVD (Definitive Edition).

The Guild (season 4, 1-12) DVD.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer DVD.

The Mask of Zorro DVD.

Dude, Where’s My Car? DVD.

1 pack of 3 Coral Massage Sponges.

1 bag of Fruit Jellies.

1 box of Maltesers.

 

Supplies:

2 packs of 6 disposable lighters.

Notes:

1. Friend Clive suggested we try The Picture House in Stafford, which is now a Wetherspoon’s. He suggested this a couple of years ago when it first opened but we don’t get out much. I must say that Mr. Wetherspoon has done a damn fine job. Or as Laura Kuenssberg would say, “Despite Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, Mr. Wetherspoon has done a damn fine job, despite Jermey Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party.” I never went to The Picture House when it was a cinema, which is a pity, but Mr. Wetherspoon has managed to retain some of its original features, including the box office and the screen, and the walls are festooned with old film posters and photographs of dead movie stars. I felt right at home and it was a nice place to eat your dinner although I would advise against ordering the ‘BBQ pulled pork sandwich’ since the filling was rather too sloppy to remain in the bun and one had to resort to eating it with a knife and fork which is not what the good Earl intended. 

picturehouse
picturehouseinside1

2. And thence to Poundland, where, still basking in the nostalgic glow of The Picture House, I bought a load of DVDs. Silly, I know, since they’ll just sit on a pile and never be watched. Any other time I probably wouldn’t have bothered, since I could give you good reasons why they should be left on the shelf. Take Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the sequel to the first one, that’s right rubbish. But I’d just watched the new Fantastic Four film, which was intended to reboot the series with a darker tone and it made the original one seem so much better, so I thought I’d give the sequel another go. I don’t know why superhero films have to go dark, the new Fantastic Four is positively stygian. And they seem to do it with everybody, even Superman. I don’t see what he’s got moan about. He’s Superman. Back when I was reading his comics all he had to worry about was Lois Lane discovering he was Clark Kent (sorry, spoiler). And most of his adventures seemed to involve him getting his pal, Jimmy Olsen, out of scrapes into which the cub reporter had fallen, usually with a humorous bent. Just watch one of the old George Reeves’ TV episodes, they always had a scene at the end where Clark, Lois and Jimmy had a good laugh about what had transpired. Not now, you have to sit there trying to see what people are doing in the gloom and listen to them go on about all the problems superheroes have. They should try clearing out the loft, which is what I’ve been doing all day, then they’d appreciate the advantages they’ve got, like flying and stuff, although I’m not sure about the bloke in the Fantastic Four what bursts into flame all the time, that’s always seemed like a rubbish superpower to me, more of a liability, especially if you’ve got to clear out the loft.

3. X-Men is another example of the superhero genre. This is the first one, which I saw at the pictures and quite enjoyed (which is why I bought it) but I then got confused by the sequel and gave up on them. The Mask of Zorro I always meant to buy on DVD since it’s good (whereas the sequel is rubbish because it’s got a kid in it - will they never learn?) but I’d bought the video when it came out and although you don’t mind replacing things you taped off the telly, you feel a bit daft spending more money on the same thing. Still, it was only a pound, and one of the posters in The Picture House was The Mark of Zorro (Tyrone Power, 1940) so it seemed a bit like fate. And then there was Dude, Where’s My Car?, which I could have rejected on the grounds that modern American (or any country’s) comedies are not my cup of tea, but this harks back to the gentler age of The Three Stooges and Abbott and Costello and is just daft.

4. And then there’s season 4 of The Guild, which is a web series which I’ve never seen and would never have heard of except No. 2 son’s good lady wife is a fan. It’s a strange thing to find in Poundland.

 

June 2016

 

Tuesday, 28th June - Hanley (big shop)

pound1607 pound1608

Texas Killing Fields Blu-ray.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events DVD.

1 pack of 2 Safety Masks.

1 bag of Fruit Jellies.

1 box of Maltesers.

Notes:

1. It was the day for taking the car into Kwikfit’s for its M.O.T and service, so I dropped it off then went to renew my bus pass, but the place I got it from last had closed down cause it’s in the original Hanley Shopping Centre, which is now all boarded up awaiting redevelopment into a garden of delights or summat, so I thought, I’d have to go to the library to find out where it had moved to, but on the way I pass Hanley Town Hall, which is where they do weddings these days and not much else, but I go in there and ask where do I renew my bus pass and the lady on reception says the lego building, which is the new council building which they built after they’d demolished the old one and built a new one in Stoke (the town) then decided they didn’t like that and so built a new one (not with lego, in case you’re confused, it’s just got all these multi-coloured windows which the architect must have thought was a good idea) on the site of the one they’d pulled down in Hanley, so I went there and you go in and there’s this computer saying “What do you want?” and you have to press things on the screen like you do when you go the doctor’s, that is if you can get an appointment what with all the bloody migrants with their diseases, and it gives you a ticket like in Argos and then you have to sit there for hours waiting behind all these bloody migrants claiming their free council houses and ... sorry, I can’t do it. I know we all have to pull together now and be united, now that we have taken control and have our country back, but I just can’t get into the spirit of the thing. I suppose I could put on some weight and shave my head and get a pair of glasses, so I fit in a bit more, but I can’t seem to grasp the correct way of thinking. I think it’s a question of choosing the right phrases. There’s that thing they do, the fat baldy-yedded men in glasses, where they say “I’m not a racist, but...” before saying something racist. I can’t get my head round that. I think it would be better if they all wore badges with ‘Racist’ on them so we’d know where we stood and then it wouldn’t have been a surprise when they all voted to get rid of the migrants and caused great confusion in the land. But that’s democracy and you can’t argue with that unless you’re a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party, when you can. So I got my bus pass and went wom on one. Then in the afternoon I got on another one and went back up Hanley to get the car, nipping into Poundland on the way.

2. I had been mulling over adding a new rule to the Rules of Poundland relating to the purchase of blu-rays, along the lines of ‘If it’s on blu-ray buy it.’ But there were many blu-rays in the shop and they included The Harry Hill Movie and Mrs.Brown’s Boys D’ Movie so I don’t think we need bother with that. They’d also got I, Frankenstein on blu-ray and I would have bought that, but it had been on telly the week before and I’d seen a bit of it and it made no bloody sense whatever, there were these demons fighting these gargoyles and they all wanted to get hold of I. Franksenstein, who was played by Aaron Eckhart, who used to be a good actor before he got stuck in a room with a load of computers.

3. I bought Lemony Snicket, because it is good despite having Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep in it, and Texas Killing Fields which I’d never been that interested in since it claimed to be based on truth, which is never a good sign, but it had people in it and turned out ok, and it was on blu-ray.

4. The masks are for going up the loft since I’m supposed to be clearing it out. I was doing that a couple of years ago and got pneumonia, which the doctor said was because I smoked, but I have a feeling it was more to do with being up the loft, so now I wear a mask. At least if I get it again then I’ll know my diagnosis was wrong and I should listen to the experts, despite Michael Gove’s sage advice to the contrary.

 

August 2016

 

Wednesday, 3rd August - Hanley (big shop)

pound1609 pound1610

The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition 2-Disc Set) Blu-ray.

Bad Land: Road to Fury Blu-ray.

Hobo With A Shotgun Blu-ray

The Founding Of A Republic Blu-ray

Hard Rain DVD.

Conspiracy Theory DVD.

1 pack of 2 Safety Masks.

1 tub of 151 Fix and Grout.

1 bag of Fruit Jellies.

 

Supplies:

1 pack of 40 Coley & Gill Unscented Tea Lights.

1 pack of 2 FusioMax Endurance AA Batteries.

Notes:

1. This was the annual visit to buy a box of Maltesers (not listed so as not to spoil the surprise) for the good lady wife’s birthday. Everything else was for me, although I will get no pleasure from the tub of grout which is an indication of manwork to come. The safety masks are to stop me getting the pneumonia when clearing out the loft as described earlier. They seem to be working since I’ve already taken two carloads to Burslem Tip and I haven’t succumbed yet. The jellies are my reward for having to undertake such tasks at my age when I could be sitting down and watching Hobo With A Shotgun.

2. I taped Hobo With A Shotgun when it was on telly a couple of years ago, but never watched it since everybody says it’s rubbish. I thought if I bought a copy then I’d feel obliged to watch it and then I could say it was rubbish too. Plus it was on Blu-ray and there are a load of extras including commentaries, so I may have to spend the rest of my life watching Hobo With A Shotgun.

3. Or I could watch The Founding Of A Republic which has got Jet Li, Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen in it. “For the first time ever in one epic film” as it says on the front (although I have a feeling they’ll all just walk into a room, realise it’s got nothing to do with them and bugger off). This is very long and could be quite boring but, again it’s on Blu-ray, but with no extras so it won’t cut into my Hobo With A Shotgun-watching time to any great extent. The Chinese seem to be making these big historical epics now rather than the kicky films they used to do. I was reading the other day how they’re becoming the biggest overseas market for Hollywood films and are even having a say in how they’re made. Add to that the fact that the Chinese have just bought all the Odeons and one could get a bit Ukippy and start asking for our country back. But I won’t.

4. Bad Land (not to be confused with Badlands, which is the Terrence Mallick classic - one of his two, the other being Days of Heaven) is sometimes referred to as ‘the robot horse film’ to avoid confusion. However, the marketing people have decided that that does not have sufficient drawing power as a subtitle, and have gone for ‘Road to Fury’, hoping that some poor soul will mistake it for Mad Max: Fury Road. It is true that both take place in a post-apocalyptic world, but whereas the latter is full of car chases and stunts, the former has a robot horse. By the way, when consulting imdb, I discovered that the original title of Bad Land: Road to Fury was Young Ones - make of that what you will. I do find myself these days forgetting the titles of films and I wonder, given the Fury Road we’re all travelling down towards the Care Home on the Corner, that producers could give a useful social service by adding more relevant subtitles to their films. For example, there is a film called Unman, Wittering and Zigo, quite a neat little thriller, which the good lady wife always refers to as ‘the one where David Hemmings eats beans on toast with a fork’. Maybe that’s not the best example.

5. The Fellowship of the Ring was the extended edition two disc set on Blu-ray and was thus a bargain. Whether I’ll ever have time to watch it and its array of commentaries and extra features, I doubt very much. And whether I’ll bother with the other two in the Lord of the Rings trilogy should they ever turn up, probably. No idea why.

6. Hard Rain and Conspiracy Theory are on DVD and have no added content, they’re just good, solid films.

7. One thing I should add in mitigation for my profligate spending is the fact that while I was perusing the shelves a couple turned up and attacked the Blu-ray section with manic fervour. The woman, who was in a wheelchair, which, I hasten to add, I only mention as a matter of fact in order to paint the scene accurately - these days I find that one has to be careful what one says in case one is labelled as some kind of ‘ist’, this is particularly so if one is a member of the Labour Party, or, more specifically a supporter of Mr. Corbyn, in which case you are an anti-semitic, misogynistic, Trotskyite and I don’t want to add ableist to the list (I had to look that one up) - seemed quite excited that Mr. Poundland had got some new stock in and as her partner (I don’t know if they were married or related, or merely friends, I did not enquire since we’d only just met and my only contribution to the conversation was “do you want me to shift?” since the bloke was reaching over my head to grab the goodies and I was pinned to the shelf by the wheelchair) shouted out titles and threw them over me to the basket on the lady’s lap, I got caught up in the moment and threw caution to the wind, which is how come I ended up with Hobo With A Shotgun, The Founding Of A Republic and the thing with the robot horse. However, when my companions started on the Steven Seagals that did bring me back to my senses - I gave up on him when he started using a stunt double for the scenes when he was just walking about. 

 

September 2016

 

Saturday, 3rd September - Worthing

pound1611 pound1612

Apartment 1303 DVD.

Brake DVD.

Oklahoma! DVD.

Along Came A Spider DVD.

Pathfinder (Extended edition) DVD.

 

Supplies:

3 packs of 6 disposable lighters.

I should also say that the film with the robot horse which I slightly pooh-poohed last month, turned out to be not too bad. I am suitably chastened.

Notes:

1. I’ve left this one too long to add any meaningful explanations. Partly that was because I bought Apartment 1303 purely because it was in a lenticular slipcase which had 3D emblazoned on it. I didn’t know whether that just referred to the lenticular slipcase, which was very good, or whether it referred to the DVD itself, in which case it wouldn’t work on my non-3D telly, so I had to wait until I’d seen it before I could comment. By which time other stuff had intruded and the more that happened the less important what I had bought in Worthing Poundland on 3rd September seemed. I’m not talking death and destruction or end of the world, just things in general, like going to see Jeremy Corbyn in Nottingham because he had actually been up Hanley when we were down in Worthing, which miffed me, so we went to Nottingham instead and then the satnav turned out to be an Owen Smith supporter and deposited us in the middle of Nottingham in a pedestrianised area, instead of the park on the outskirts where we’d told it to go, so we had to drive through some kind of buses-only bit of the city, which resulted in a Ł30 fine, which we didn’t know at the time, but Owen Smith sent us the bill a couple of weeks later. And then there was all the buying a new car business which was weird. I was going to ignore what I’d bought in Worthing and just write a piece about that, how I wish buying a car was like going into Poundland, not that I expect Mr. Poundland will ever get round to selling cars in his shops, but I just wish you could go into a car shop and point to one and the salesman would tell you how much it cost and then you’d just hand over the money and drive it away, instead of them sitting you down and offering you coffee and then building a virtual car for you which has all these extra features like paint which cost a bit more. But, I thought, this is my problem and of no interest to anyone else. But putting the car thing and the Jeremy Corbyn thing together I was reminded of one of those time travel conundrums. One of the arguments against the possibility of time travel is that we haven’t met anyone from the future. But, the counter-claim is that if people were coming back and changing things, we’d never know, we’d just wake up one morning and everything would be different, but our memories of how it had been would also have been changed. And I do wonder if that’s what’s happened. How else to explain Jeremy Corbyn, who everybody agrees is a nice, honest chap who’s attracted all this support for the Labour Party, but who is then attacked, not just in the right-wing press, but also in the mainstream press and on the BBC. And the ‘rebel’ Labour M.P.s whose actions should at least be investigated, are treated as heroes who are fighting this scourge of democracy. It just doesn’t make sense. There was an item on the news today about some retired general who says that our armed forces are not strong enough to resist an all-out attack by Russia. And this is treated with absolute seriousness. No one asks why Russia would launch an attack on Britain. What possible scenario exists where Russia would ignore all the countries in between and just throw all its efforts into defeating us. No, we must waste even more money on the army just in case. Just as we have to renew Trident just in case. And everybody goes along with it and sings ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ and thinks we’re living in 1939. Except the past has changed and we defeated Hitler all on our own and Russia had nothing to do with it. And I seem to be out of step. Just as I can’t play the car-buying game. Something has changed and all logic has gone out the window. And Jeremy Corbyn is the devil. So, I now believe in time travel, it’s the only thing that makes sense.

2. Apartment 1303 was not in 3D, but, going by the credits, it was released that way originally and there were a couple of nice effects when things flew at you, which probably would have been quite impressive in 3D. But these were not enough to make up for the terrible script and abysmal acting (even of Rebecca De Mornay). For once the comments on imdb are correct and the ‘worst film ever’ is not countered by ‘the best film ever’, which is as it should be.

3. On the other hand, Brake, which I expected to be bad (an obvious cash-in on the modest success of Buried), with a man trapped in the boot of a car for the majority of its running time, surprised me. It was quite good, and the acting of Stephen Dorff likewise.

4. And I suppose I should mention Oklahoma!, especially as it has singalong subtitles. I don’t intend to sit there belting out “Oooooooooklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain, Oklahoma”, while the good lady wife looks on in terror. I think I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really like Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals because they’re all a bit heavy and people die or there’s Nazis or Julie Andrews in them, but I do like some of the songs in Oklahoma! so I thought I’d give it a go.

5. And the other two - Pathfinder I mistook for the other Viking film, the one with Jim Caviezel fighting aliens, but this is the one with Karl Urban, but I think that was o.k. as well. And I did hesitate before buying Along Came A Spider, because there’s probably a box set with the other Morgan Freeman/Alex Cross film, Kiss the Girls in it, which will no doubt turn up in Poundland one day and give me a quandary, but I thought I might as well risk it. It was only a pound.

 

October 2016

 

Sunday, 2nd October - Hanley (big shop)

pound1613 pound1614

Red Hill DVD.

Salt DVD.

A Spooky Haunted Poster.

2 packs of 2 Safety Masks.

1 tube of Bath & Shower Silicone Waterproof.

1 tube of Hard As Nails High Power Adhesive.

1 pack of 45 Refuse Sacks (50L Capacity).

1 pack of 3 Walnut Whips.

 

Supplies:

1 pack of 4 Electro Refillable Lighters (with Halloween pictures on them).

2 packs of 2 Kodak Xtralife C Batteries.

1 pack of 6 Kodak Xtralife AA Batteries.

1 pack of 4 Fusio Max Endurance AA Batteries.

Notes:

1. Much manwork ahead, but a notable shortage of big tubes of sealant means the refurbishment of the bathroom might take a while. This is the second trip to the big Poundland up Hanley in search of sealant, and the second time I was disappointed in my quest, having to settle for a teeny weeny tube of same which will barely spread round the sink. Is there some worldwide shortage of cheap sealant I don’t know about?

2. The batteries are also the result of manwork - clearing the loft means finding old toys in need of batteries to see if they still work. And the masks and bags are also loft-related.

3. The DVDs require little comment. Salt I got because I hadn’t got a copy and it’s quite good. I’m not a big fan of Angelina Jolie, who plays Salt, but I do admire a lot of Philip Noyce’s other films. He’s not one of those ‘two good films and then rubbish’ directors like Mr. Tarantino, he’s more of the old-school journeyman directors who just happened to make a lot of good films without being called a genius by the critics and believing it. There are a lot of these directors around, people like John Badham and John Dahl, who now seem to be just working in TV. Red Hill I bought by mistake. When I saw it I thought, “That’s not Kevin Smith’s Red State” and was so pleased that my memory was working I forgot completely that I’d already seen Red Hill. I can’t remember anything about it, which is how your memory plays its little tricks, but the other reason I bought it was because it purported to be a cowboy film. It isn’t, of course, it’s one of those ‘modern day westerns’ and is also set in Australia (I had to check on imdb) but it’s supposed to be good and I think I enjoyed it first time round, so I’ll watch it again and hope this time it sticks. I should add that I bought it, thinking it was a cowboy, because I’d just been to the pictures to see the remake of The Magnificent Seven, which was, inevitably, disappointing, and I wanted to revitalise my love of the genre. I know I’ve mentioned before that this site is turning into some kind of random film blog, but there’s only so much you can write about clearing out the loft and regrouting the tiles in the bathroom. The reason The Magnificent Seven was disappointing was that it lacked depth. If you treat it like the sequels to the original movie, or even the short-lived TV series, then it’s ok. It passes the time. But, if you set out to remake the original, then you need to study the original, and the original of the original, Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. You need to see both, to see how the Hollywood remake (which should have been a pale imitation since that is the rule with such remakes of ‘foreign’ classics) didn’t just slavishly copy its original, but reworked it for a Western (in both senses) audience. At the end of Seven Samurai, the farmers win (they always win), but the surviving samurai walk off into the sunset, their honour intact, but effectively unchanged by their experience, they are loners who abide by their code and no longer fit into society. In The Magnificent Seven, they begin as gunslingers, knowing their time has gone, but they are all then redeemed by their defence of the Mexican village. In other words, it’s the same theme that Shakespeare used in his final plays - redemption. How this differs from the new version is that each of the Seven are essentially the same, but they each have different motives for signing up to the task. In the new version, they all look different, there’s a black man, an Asian guy, a Native American, a Mexican, a fat old comedy fur-trapper type, a Southern dude and a Steve McQueen stand-in. Thus we can recognise them. Their motives for joining the quest are basically the same. Denzel Washington asks them to. And, to make matters worse (spoiler), right at the end the writers, presumably to cover themselves, throw in a revenge motive for Denzel, which makes absolutely no sense whatever and undermines everything that’s gone before. There are nods to the original of course, the Southern dude, portrayed by Ethan Hawke, gets to play many parts - the cowardly Robert Vaughn, the mercenary Brad Dexter, and he’s also involved in a rerun of the James Coburn knife vs. gun fight. And the music occasionally sounds like it’s going to go into Elmer Bernstein’s truly magnificent theme, but then doesn’t. Not till the credits roll, and then you realise how disappointed you really feel. I saw the original when it first came out, I must have been 9 or 10, and it’s one of those films I still have a clear picture of sitting in the circle of the old Odeon in Hanley, with my sister and my dad, watching it (I can do that with some films, not all, otherwise I’d be Mr. Memory and I could tell you the significance of the 39 Steps) and thinking, ‘this is great’. And I wanted to be Steve McQueen (still do). With the remake I didn’t want to be any of them, not even Denzel. But, no doubt, when the DVD turns up in Poundland, I’ll buy it.

4. I usually buy one Halloween item and this year it’s the Spooky Haunted Poster, which is a companion piece to the Creepy Photoframes which I purchased last year. I have no idea at all what to do with it. I was also forced to buy the electronic lighters since they didn’t have any proper ones, so I chose those with the Halloween pictures on them. So I guess that counts as two Halloween items this year, which seems in keeping with the way the world is going.

5. I feel I should say something about my lack of birdfood purchases over the last few months. I would not like anyone thinking that I have changed my supplier and found a cheaper source than Poundland. In fact the William Cat Memorial Bird Sanctuary is going through a transitional phase at the moment and all the birds, the fat pigeons, the sparrows who live in the back hedge, the occasional jackdaws and magpies, and the rarely-sighted nuthatch and sparrowhawk, have all buggered off. This is due to a sudden invasion of cats from the neighbouring houses. I would like to think that they are all visiting the William Cat Memorial Bird Sanctuary in order to pay their respects to their fellow feline, but I would be fooling myself and I know that their only interest in the walks and arbours, the rustic benches and water features, is the presence of the bird feeders packed with Mr. Poundland’s seeds, and the flying food which these attract. The bastards.

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December 2016

 

Wednesday, 21st December - Hanley (big shop)

pound1615 pound1616

[simulation]

Report From The Interior by Paul Auster.

SCRE4M Blu-ray.

The Artist Blu-ray.

Sunshine On Leith Blu-ray.

Premium Rush DVD.

Interview DVD.

Office Space DVD.

1 packet of Honey & Lemon Strepsils.

1 pack of 5 mentos fruit.

 

Supplies:

2 packs of 6 disposable lighters.

Notes:

1. This was the regular Christmas visit to Poundland for last-minute gifts but it went a bit wrong. In the words of Anthony Quinn referring to James Darren in The Guns of Navarone, “He forgot why we came here.” So, apart from the box of maltesers for the good lady wife (not pictured), I ended up just buying stuff for myself. All in the spirit of the season if you just take the being jolly bit but not if you think the goodwill to all men is important. In my defence I would offer the fact that I am not well and am currently spending too much of my time around doctors and their toys.

2. Paul Auster was on telly the other night discussing the parlous state of the world, so I acknowledged the coincidence and bought his book. Actually I think one is legally obliged to buy a Paul Auster book if you find it in Poundland; their respective worlds are so discontiguous that such an occurrence threatens the very fabric of the universe.

3. Scream 4 (or SCRE4M as it is cleverly yclept) I’ve never seen, so, despite the diminishing returns of the first two sequels, I thought this fourth entry in the series, released eleven years after Scream 3, might be worth a look.

4. I haven’t seen Sunshine On Leith either despite its being on telly. The good lady wife does not share my liking for The Proclaimers, so this musical based on their śuvre I must perforce watch alone.

5. The Artist is good, as is Premium Rush, and Office Space, if I remember aright is an understated comic gem. Interview, on the other hand, looks a bit boring and I picked it up and put it back, then picked it up again and thought, it’s only a pound and it’s Steve Buscemi and besides it’s Christmas. Like I said, I forgot why I came here.

6. When I left the shop there was a bloke shouting the odds in the middle of the street. I think drink had been taken. He seemed to be damning us all to hell and damnation for some reason (see, I told you about finding Paul Auster books in Poundland) but he did not sport the regulation garb of the prophet of doom - no sackcloth and ashes, just t-shirt and jeans. Of course, being English, we all gave him a wide berth and pretended not to notice him, but I did think later that maybe, in a spirit of Christian charity, given the season, I should have approached him and tried to calm him down, mayhap by pointing out the heavenly delights awaiting him in the Hanley Poundland Big Shop. But, on reflection, I think I was wise not to bother - he was a big chap, twice my size and half my age and I really didn’t want to end up as a headline in The Sentinel: SILLY FOO STABBED BY LOONEY.

 

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